Monthly Archives: July 2009

In Defense of Mark Bittman

Dear Colleagues:

In Spring 2009, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman announced that:

All day long, he eats a vegan diet. But after about 6 p.m., anything goes.

And then, in July 2009, Bittman announced that in training for the New York City Marathon, he was advised that he needed more animal protein so he:

started eating a “concentrated protein,” usually tofu, a can of sardines, an egg thrown onto whatever else I’m eating, or something equally simple, right after six-miles-or-longer runs.

And today, Bittman informed us that he had taken yet another step away from veganism (which was not veganism anyway) because in making an “almost-vegan” grain dish for breakfast, he added:

fish sauce (non-vegan, but one teaspoon, and I swear it made the dish – though it would have been okay without it).

Now there are animal rights people who are pretty upset about this. How can Bittman claim to be a vegan when it seems that he isn’t at any point during the day—before or after 6 p.m.?

I am sorry but I must come to Bittman’s defense here.

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Creative, Non-Violent Vegan Education—Easy and Effective

Dear Colleagues:

I recently posted several essays (e.g.,1, 2, 3) on various creative, non-violent vegan education. I am interested in canvassing the range of things that people are doing. So I posted a note on Facebook asking for people to tell me about their efforts at non-violent, creative vegan/abolitionist education. In one day, I got dozens of excellent replies.

Here are some:

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On Vivisection and Violence

Dear Colleagues:

In today’s Mail Online, the internet edition of the Daily Mail, a U.K. newspaper, there is a fascinating article about vivisection by Dr. Danny Penman, a former research biochemist who now does science journalism for New Scientist and the Daily Mail.

Penman makes it clear that he supports vivisection:

Like most people, I would sacrifice the lives of countless lab animals to save my fiancèe or other members of my family.

Putting aside that most people would, if in a situation which they were forced to choose, sacrifice the lives of countless other humans to save those close to them (so the animal issue is beside the point), Penman goes on to express concern that there has been an increase over last year of half a million animals used in Britain labs and that the number of animals used for research in Britain now stands at 3.7 million.

Penman maintains that some use of animals is necessary but he argues that vivisection may actually threaten human health. He quotes New Scientist as reporting that the results of vivisection are “no more informative than tossing a coin,” and although he, Penman, would not go so far, he does agree that “vivisection is, at best, unreliable and, at worst, lethal.” He cites several examples where drugs that were tested on animals without there being any adverse reaction caused humans to become critically ill and to die. He argues in favor of new technologies that do not involve animals and that are much more reliable.

Penman’s critique of vivisection is quite remarkable given that he supports vivisection. I cannot recall the last time that I saw such an essay.

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“Truth, Love and Liberty”

Dear Colleagues:

Let me preface the following remarks with the observation that I am no way questioning the sincerity of the individuals involved in the event that I am about to discuss. The purpose of this essay is to focus on what I regard as the very confused and morally problematic message that such an event involves.

On Tuesday, July 21, 2009, The Humane Society of the United States held an event to encourage prominent chefs and restaurants to support the HSUS boycott of Canadian seafood as a means to pressure the Canadian government to end the commercial seal slaughter in Canada.

Some details:

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The Religion of Non-Violence

Dear Colleagues:

This past weekend, JAINA, the Federation of Jain Associations in North America, held its 15th Biennial Convention. The Convention was held in Los Angeles at the Jain Center of Southern California, which is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen anywhere in America.

The theme of the Convention was “Ecology: The Jain Way.” The selection of this theme reflects a central focus of the Jain tradition: that all life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence.

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